Established in 2002 and expanded in 2015, the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park is a newer addition to The Bahamas national park system and has the potential to be an exceptional example of community-based conservation. By working with local stakeholders, the BNT is creating opportunities for world-class ecotourism, inspiring restoration and protection of endangered species, traditional resource use, and citizen-science experiences that create memories of a lifetime.
Make sure you visit Basil’s Classroom and the trails on the eastern end of Stocking Island to learn more about the ecosystems of the park and take in some breathtaking views. This 50 acre parcel was historically held as a crown-land nature preserve and will continue to be accessible to the public as a part of Moriah Harbour Cay National Park.
Coming soon: An additional network of trails on Moriah Harbour Cay featuring “the farm” and forest of silver top palms that supplied the strawcraft industry of Exuma for generations. A Welcome Centre at The Ferry, Little Exuma is also in development.
As early as the mid-1980s concerned citizens began expressing the need to protect Moriah Harbour Cay and its surrounding areas. Led by Basil Minns, an avid birdwatcher, fisherman, and respected member of the community, a campaign was forged and gained momentum in the late 1990s. A broad spectrum of stakeholders got involved, including students and adults from across Exuma, who wrote numerous letters to the Prime Minister and other government officials. They called for the Government to establish the national park and within months, the “Save Moriah Harbour Cay Project” had attracted a significant following and national attention.
Widespread support for the national park continued, with the Exuma Tourism and Environmental Advisory Committee, Local Government, bonefish guides, and other civic groups endorsing the effort. Exuma residents and other supporters wrote articles and letters to the editor about Moriah Harbour Cay and the need for a national park. Meetings were held on Exuma to discuss boundaries and rules for what would be a national park. It was agreed during these early sessions that traditional uses of the area would be maintained, including bonefishing and harvesting of the silver top palm.
In April 2002, the Government of The Bahamas declared the area a national park, conveying Moriah Harbour Cay National Park (MHCNP) to the BNT. The following year, when the boundaries were gazetted for Exuma, Moriah Harbour Cay and about half of the proposed area was excluded. BNT and supporters of the original proposal continued to advocate for the excluded area and eventually succeeded. The expansion of MHCNP was approved in 2015, as part of a national declaration by The Government of The Bahamas.
The effort to save Moriah Harbour Cay, with its humble beginnings, evolved into a campaign that took the national stage. Its success is attributed to the tireless efforts of persons like Jane and Basil Minns, and many other concerned individuals, groups, and organizations that took part in the grassroot movement.
To learn more about Basil Minns and the fight to protect Moriah Harbour Cay, read our story: Basil Minns: “Father of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park”.